GM/NS-136 Creag nam Fiadh - first activation 26/6/21

This activation came about because my XYL fancied a long weekend away with some hill-walking with dog plus a bit of SOTA for me. Looking at the database, I saw a few unactivated ones so my XYL did some research for dog-friendly accomodation nearby and came up with the Garvault Hotel, which miraculously had availability and 2 other summits (Ben Griam Mor and Ben Griam Beg) right behind it. In addition, the weather forecast looked good as well.
I decided to do the unactivated GM/NS-136 Creag nam Fiadh rather than another one GM/NS-126 as it had a shorter walk in.
Drive up from Aboyne took 41/2 hours, turning off the A9 onto a very interesting “road” along Glen Loth; luckily we didn’t meet any logging trucks.
The Garvault Hotel is advertised as the most remote hotel in mainland Britain. Great location, super people (Eva(Austrian), Adrian(English), Ollie(Swiss)), excellent set menu food and house wine, very comfortable beds, dogs welcome (3 resident), no TV and wifi a bit slow so not suitable for gaming or viewing IPlayer(not that I cared much about that). I highly recommend this place and we will be back. On the morning of our departure I took a 360 video from the hotel garden:

Red deer are all over the place. These two were about 500 yards from the hotel:

GM/NS-136 Creag nam Fiadh (hill or rock of the deer, pronounced Craig nam Feeah) is a grassy 1 pointer which presumably has not been activated before because its a bit boring compared to its higher neighbours. The XYL dropped me off at the walk-in start at the railway level crossing at Borrobol Lodge. The level crossing gates are for residents only, so you can’t get further with a car. Parking is only really practical back at the main road.

Route in

The track from Borrobol is very well maintained and an easy walk. A herd of about a dozen red deer crossed in front of me at one point. After just under 2 miles, there is a turn-off down to a fishing loch, Loch Ascaig, which had a few small boats moored up.

Loch Ascaig boat with Creag nam Fiadh behind

The path ends at the loch with a small wooden bridge over the stream

From then on its trackless hummocky/tussocky grass and heather all the way to the top and you just have to pick a likely looking direction. I think in winter it could be rather soggy. With the trig point in view, I nearly had a disaster. I stupidly put my weight on some nice lime green foliage and promptly sank about 2 feet into bog which threw me completely off-balance and I pitched face-down. I thought my calf had popped but happily it was only a bit of cramp. In order to get up I had to unstrap my backpack and then put it on again for the last 100 yards to the top.

Trig point looking north

Activation site with DX Commander, 6/10m moxon and 2m yagi. Looking roughly south

I set up not far from the trig and started on 20m, where 2E0ESY was first in the log. A busy pile-up ensued, including 5 S2S. Moving to 40m brought another good run and more S2S.
I then took a look at 2m and a CQ on 144.300 brought an immediate response from Jon OY9JD, whom I had worked on 2m before from a summit in Aberdeenshire. After a QSY and a nice chat, I tried more CQs but heard nothing, either on SSB or FM. I checked back later in the afternoon and the OY beacon was still 59, but no activity.
6m stayed dead all day :slightly_frowning_face:
10m was open to Spain and France, so I put out a spot which resulted in just the one chaser, Chris F4WBN 59 both ways.
I then tried 12m but a spot and CQs brought nothing.
17m brought a few contacts with G, GM and SP.
I then tried 15m and got 3 QSOs, one with a local, Clive MM1YAM just 20 miles away in Lairg.
Moved to 30m and had a nice run despite the QRN and QSB, including a S2S with HB9AFI/P.
Switching back to 40m brought another good run with some more S2S including one with M0TKF/P. This took a few attempts to exchange reports due mainly to QSB. One chaser tried to be helpful by QSPing my report from Roy, which although done with good intentions was not helpful - I had got my report OK by the time he chipped in and QSPing just causes QRM and would not I presume result in a valid S2S anyway. GW1OHD/P, Brendan, running 5w from Anglesey gave me my best report of the day of 59+20 - he was 58.
After picking up another S2S on 17m I went back to 20m for the last session of the day, with DL8UV being the last in the log.
After packing up, the walk back down took 1 hour 45m and the XYL met me with a cold beer :stuck_out_tongue:
87 QSOs for the day and 13 S2S. I didn’t work anyone outside EU, with OY9JD being the most exotic. Thanks to everyone, chasers and activators and to the midges for staying away.

View of Ben Loyal from Creag nam Fiadh

Gordonbush windfarm, SE of the summit - turbines were motionless due to lack of wind

Unfortunately I had to cancel plans to do Ben Griam Mor the following day as my knee was too sore. It had held up OK for the descent from Creag nam Fiadh but further SOTA exertions were a definite no-no. I’ll do it next time… Instead of SOTA I enjoyed more beautiful weather on the Sunday with XYL and dog, going north to the coast at Bettyhill and Melvich which has a superb beach where we got dive-bombed by Arctic terns.


It’s neighbour Meadie Ridge GM/NS-130 (August trip to Northern Scotland: Ben Loyal and friends - #2 by MM0FMF) is not quite ankle deep bog over huge areas and that was in August. You’ve benefited from the long mainly dry spell.

Nice to know the Garvault Hotel is open and nice. You’ve got somewhere to go back to for when you do Ben Griam Mor now!


Thanks for the nice report, a first activation is a special accomplishment, sadly getting rare in GM these days, cherish your great memories.



There’s only 3 mainland GM ones left and all are a bit of a trek.

1 Like

I was very lucky to get my GM/SI-073 on Harris when the car did most of the trekking and it was really quite a short yomp up there in May 2018. The weather stopped any thoughts of another … and G4WSB came along and scooped them up a fortnight later!!
Viki M6BWA

1 Like

That comment may focus a few minds! Time was when Paul G4MD and myself had plans-a-plenty to bag unactivated summits. We only achieved some of them of course. Perhaps our most bemoaned failure is not bagging both of the final two GM/SS summits. I was harranged for stealing SS-181 from under the noses of Jack GM4COX and Neil 2M0NCM… I can only guess what would have happened if we’d have managed SS-173 as well. Probably been ex-communicated. :grinning:

Well done on the first activation Simon. I wonder how the plans for the remaining 3 are coming on. :wink: :wink:

1 Like

One of them looks like a 13.5km trek there plus the same back.
Another is 12.5km there plus the return.
The easy one is only about 5.5km each way… trivial but the ground is reknowned for its boggy-ness.

One day should be more than enough for someone dedicated.

That’s until you add them new GM Marilyns to the SOTA programme Andy.

Jimmy M0HGY